It is not easy being a defending champion in the IPL. However you have done in the past is forgotten, and you are expected to come up with dominating performances. This pressure got the better of Kolkata Knight Riders last year, and although it is too early in the tournament, the vibrations that Mumbai Indians are giving are not so encouraging. In both the matches, they have played so far, the defending champions have looked completely out of sorts. In fact, there has hardly been an occasion when it seemed that they were dominating the game.
On Sunday, it was their poor batting that let them down. The openers struggled at the top, with both Aditya Tare and Michael Hussey failing to convert their respective starts, and Mumbai never recovered after that. Ambati Rayudu hung around for a decent amount of time, but he never got going. The fact that he managed just one boundary in 37 deliveries says a lot about his stay at the crease. The rest of the batting line-up also performed miserably, as a result of which they ended up with a score well below par.
Going into the series, there were plenty of hopes from the two big hitters in the side Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson. And the fact that both have struggled to get going so far has hampered Mumbai in a big way. In both the matches so far, they have looked totally out of sorts, and will have to get their act right very soon, if Mumbai have to get back on the winning track. The fact that skipper Rohit Sharma has also struggled hasn’t helped their cause. Given the kind of experience he has, and the quality of his batting, he can be expected to come good anytime.
Even as Mumbai were poor with the bat, Bangalore’s bowlers were equally probing. They never allowed Mumbai’s batsmen to get into any sort of rhythm in spite of a couple of catches going down early. Mitchell Starc bowled with pace and fire at the top, and he was ably supported by Albie Morkel, who kept things tight. For a change, Varun Aaron also got his line and length right to go with is pace while Ashok Dinda came up with one of his most economical spells. The bowling performance of the match though came from Yuzvendra Chahal, who sent back Sharma and Pollard in quick succession to put Bangalore on top.
Mumbai’s bowlers were always going to struggle to defend the meagre total. But Lasith Malinga and Zaheer Khan, in particular, brought all their experience into play, to peg back the Bangalore batsmen early on, who were once again without Chris Gayle. However, Bangalore knew they needed only one good partnership to get home. Parthiv Patel and AB de Villiers batted very sensibly to keep Bangalore ahead in the game. In the end, they were deserved winners, as they had dominated a significant portion of the match.
--By A Cricket Analyst